The holidays can be a stressful time, especially because of all the extra “stuff”. You’re also busier than usual, buying and wrapping gifts, celebrating the festivities with friends, and just generally prepping for the season. What you need is a Christmas cleaning routine that will ensure your home is in tip-top shape while still leaving you plenty of time to cosy up under a comfortable blanket and watch “Elf”… again. 😉
You can either go room by room, or complete each step in the entire house before moving on to the next. The depth of cleaning is also up to you – if you have the time and inclination to do a deep clean, go for it; if not, make a quick stab at it and go on to the next step. Treat this as a rough guideline for what will have your home looking its best for the festive season.
Christmas Cleaning Routine – Step by Step
This should always be your first step when it comes to getting your house in order, especially over the holidays when there’s going to be a lot more “stuff” coming into your home. Empty out all the nooks and crannies before Santa and your friends and family fill them up again. It’ll mean the difference between finding a space for a new gift, and just trying to squash it in enough to slam and lock the door on it.
You’ll also want to make way for all the extra food that’s going to be in the house, so clear out the fridge, freezer, cupboards and pantry in preparation. Obviously anything expired should go, but also get serious about what you’re genuinely not using. If it’s non-perishable, please consider donating it to a shelter.
Write a list of everything you’ll need to buy at the store.
2. Get chimneys swept
Arguably, this is something you can leave until after the Christmas season, but if it hasn’t been done in a while, cleaning your chimneys and fireplaces (or, if you have central heating, replacing any filters, etc.) is important. No amount of cleaning will suffice if you’re sabotaging your efforts by lighting a fire and letting all the smoke blow back into the room, or if your heaters are churning out dust. Let an expert at it if needs be.
(Bonus tip: a voucher for a chimney sweep is a great gift because it’s an expense most people don’t like paying for but, in reality, is important and can potentially even be life-saving.)
Especially important after step #2. Start at the top and work your way down. If you’ve got one of those extendable dusters, all the better. (If not, wrap a dusting cloth around a sweeping brush and secure with an elastic band.) Wipe fan blades, window blinds, the tops of doors, etc. first, and then work your way down to eye-level surfaces, like bookcases. After that, tackle counters and tables, before finishing at baseboards and other lower level items.
Microfiber cloths are great for this job because instead of just pushing dust around, like regular cleaning cloths, they actually pick it up and trap it in their fibres.
Again, the time and effort you put into this is entirely up to you. If time is short, just hit the visible surfaces in the high-traffic areas. Luckily for me, I have a helper. 😉
Once everything’s dusted, go back and give everything a wipe. For the most part, you won’t need anything special here – a clean cloth and some warm, soapy water will suffice for most surfaces. If you have a surface that requires extra care (like marble, or antique furniture), refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or an expert for how best to proceed.
If time or energy are limited, just spot-wipe obvious stains and spills.
5. Focus on the floors
It’s pointless dusting and wiping dirt onto the floor and then leaving it to be kicked back up or ground in as you’re walking through your home. Whip out the vacuum and give all the floors a good going over. For hard floors, follow them up with a mop. (Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions as not all floor clearers are created equal, and the last thing you want to do is ruin your expensive flooring).
If you have rugs that can be transported reasonably easily, roll them up, bring them outside, and give them a good beating to loosen and remove dust and dirt.
Again, if time and energy are an issue, just focus on the high traffic areas. No need to be moving furniture.
No-one wants to be ironing and folding clothes on Christmas Eve. Wash bedclothes, towels, cloth napkins, linens, cleaning cloths, and anything else you’d like clean for the Christmas period in advance, including your outfit for the big day.
Disinfect cloths and sponges by wetting them thoroughly and popping them in the microwave for 2 minutes. (Be careful when removing them – they’ll be hot!)
7. Clean appliances
Feel free to go right ahead and skip this one if you’re a busy bee, or just give the outsides a quick wipe. But, if you’ve got the time and you want everything “just so”, read on.
No-one wants to cook a turkey in a crusty oven so cleaning it should be a priority. This is a great job to hire out (I do), so search for local cleaners or ask friends for recommendations. If you want to tackle it yourself (hats off to you), first check to see if it has a self-cleaning function. This is something you’ll want to in advance because it can take several hours.
The dishwasher could also do with a good clean, especially because it will probably be working double duty over the holidays. First, empty and clean the filter. Then go around the edges and gasket with a cloth, wiping away any grease and general crud. Next, pop half a glass of white vinegar on the top rack and run a hot cycle. That will do wonders to disinfect and clear any blockages that might be forming. If, afterwards, you want to deodorise, sprinkle the bottom liberally with baking soda and run another hot cycle. (Never put the vinegar and baking soda in at the same time unless you want to clean up an even bigger mess.)
Then, right after you’ve disinfected your sponge (see #5 above), take the opportunity (and the steam) to give your microwave a good wipe, inside and out. After that, clean any appliances that are on show, like coffee makers, kettles, mixers, etc.
8. Wash the dishes
Do it by hand or give your freshly-cleaned dishwasher a go. If you’re going to be pulling out the fancy china and the silver platters, or anything you don’t use on a regular basis, now’s the time to polish them up. You don’t want to get to the point where you’re about to serve dinner only to discover that some spiders or dust bunnies have set up home on your grandma’s silverware, or that it’s looking decidedly tarnished.
9. Prep for guests
If you’ll have people staying for the festive period, you’ll want to ensure their stay is a pleasant one and that you can actually relax and enjoy their company. Here’s a video on doing just that:
10. Enjoy yourself
The holidays are supposed to be just that – holidays! Never run yourself so ragged cleaning that you then can’t sit down and enjoy yourself. For me, I like to clean and prepare in advance so that, when the time comes, I can relax and know that everything is taken care of.
Cleaning your home isn’t about depriving yourself of fun, it’s so that you don’t end up running around like a headless chicken, realising too late that the moths have had a go at your fancy tablecloth, the dishwasher is already rammed to capacity, and the oven is a health and safety hazard.
So many factors will determine how much effort you put into your Christmas cleaning routine, like the time and energy available to you, how many people you share your space with, how much help you have, etc. Treat the above as a basic guideline and remember that, above all, it’s about being prepared for the season, not panicking about it.
Once you’ve followed the steps above, grab yourself a glass of your favourite tipple, pop on a DVD box set (do people still watch those?), and put your feet up. There’s no greater way to enjoy the season than feeling distinctly smug and satisfied with your organised self.
Do you do anything that’s not on my list? Let me know in the comments.